Half term at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal means Wild Wood Adventures PLUS WIN A FAMILY PASS 

Half term at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal means Wild Wood Adventures PLUS WIN A FAMILY PASS 

Den building competitions, trees with faces and a missing gladiator statue.

This half term there’s a wild wood adventure waiting for families at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. The National Trust site near Ripon is only 45 minutes from Leeds and York, and this February their family programme is all about trees.

A clay faces trail has sprung up on different trees in the water garden and by the abbey, waiting for little wanderers to explore. There are den building competitions by the playground and wooden sculpture making drop-ins in Swanley Grange, re-using fallen twigs and sticks collected from the garden by the gardening team.

Visitor Experience Officer Hayley Donaldson said: “There are over 6000 trees here at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, from sycamores to sequoias, Scot’s pines to wild cherries. Each and every one is special; some are very old, some are very tall, and some just very beautiful. There’s even a rumour that one tree was planted by royalty. We’re celebrating these wonderful trees by getting creative with art, building dens and making staffs.”


On top of Wild Wood Adventures, on Sunday February 24, wooden staffs will be swapped for garden games for the Dying Gladiator Day. The Dying Gladiator was an original statue in Studley Royal water garden which went missing over a hundred years ago. The team at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal are now fundraising to restore the statue, to return the gardens to their Georgian splendour.

The conservation team will take a mould of a Dying Gladiator statue from another eighteenth century garden to create the replacement statue. The mould will be recast in lead by a sculpture conservation specialist and mounted on a plinth made by a stone mason. The statue will then be painted bright white to match the other statues in the garden and placed in its original location near the moon ponds.

To help raise awareness for the Dying Gladiator appeal, Sunday 24 February will be a day of games, tours of the water garden and a chance to meet the conservation team. Come along to test your strength and agility with games and discover if you would have made a good gladiator.

All half term events are free with general admission. Free entry for National Trust members.


Half term highlights at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal include: 

Den building competition

Tuesday 19 February and Tuesday 26 February

1pm-3pm, meet by the play area

Learn to make your own den using sticks from the estate. How watertight will yours be? We’ll be testing them with watering cans so you’d better bring your A-game!

Make a personalised staff

Thursday 21 February and Thursday 28 February


Make like a wizard or a wild explorer and decorate your own staff using green wood collected from the estate by our gardeners. We’ll show you how to decorate it too, so your staff is special to you.

Clay face trail

Saturday 16 February – Sunday 3 March


There’s mysterious faces made from mud and moss popping up all over. Follow the clay face trail and learn all about wise trees growing at Fountains Abbey. We’ve chosen ten difference species – can you find them all?

Wild and woolly decorations

Saturday 16 February – Sunday 3 March

11am – 4pm, Swanley Grange

Pop in to Swanley Grange and have a go at making natural sculptures. We’ve collected twigs and sticks to wrap with coloured wool. How weird and wacky will you go?

Make your own clay face

Saturday 23 February and Saturday 2 March

11am-3pm, Trees at picnic point opposite play area

Led, drop-in

Get your hands dirty by making clay faces on trees. Find a tree with interesting features and decorate it with clay, moss, sticks, stones, feathers and leaves.

Dying Gladiator Day

Sunday 24 February

11am-3pm, at Silver Pond by the Studley entrance

Join us for a day of fun and find out more about the lost statue and our fundraising appeal.

Test your skills with garden games,* see artefacts from the garden and find out how statues are made. *The games will not take place in case of bad weather.

TO WIN A FAMILY PASS, GO TO: https://www.facebook.com/YorkshireFamilies/

VALENTINES DAY WITH FAMILY: Best places in Yorkshire, family activities and ideas

VALENTINES DAY WITH FAMILY: Best places in Yorkshire, family activities and ideas

Whether you love Valentines Day or Galentines Day or even if your anti-valentines day and want to look for alternative ideas to do with the family… Here’s what to do in Yorkshire this Valentines Day (February 14th) and throughout the week.

      • Stay at Home: Watch Northern Ballet Live from your own home


    • Eat Out: The likes of Turtle Bay and other restaurants are offering Valentines Day specials to share it with friends, family and loved ones.
      The carribean restaurant which has venues in Leeds and Sheffield has a special 4-course Valentines menu from 6th – 17th February to be shared with loved ones, friends or the whole family with a One Love theme.Then there’s the cocktails… A bespoke cocktail and mocktail have been specially created for Valentine’s.
      “Wray Crush” is a mix of Wray and Nephew (Jamaica’s iconic, and powerful, white rum); white cacao topped with raspberry; lemon and grapefruit… sweet but not too sweet
    • Get Crafting: Get creating with love heart themed crafts. Whether it be cutting out heart shapes and writing what you love about your life. Or you could even make this love door that my friend made for Church out of cardboard boxes and coloured paper. rpt
  • A self-care day: We often think about how to express our love for others, but what about ourselves? Try spend a Self-Care day once in a while. Here’s my self-care day at Victoria Leeds having lunch and shopping til dropping!




Whatever you do, have day filled of love! Let me know what you’re doing for Valentines Day…

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Where to celebrate CNY in Yorkshire? Plus activities, crafts and what to do

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Where to celebrate CNY in Yorkshire? Plus activities, crafts and what to do

Chinese New Year aka the Spring Festival is upon us (according to the Lunar Calendar) and we are now embarking on the Year of the Pig, so we’ve been searching for things to do to celebrate Chinese New Year in Yorkshire.

This Chinese New Year is the 12th year of the traditional 12 year Chinese Calendar, so it has been said that it will be a lucrative new year for Peppa Pig (as the new Chinese New Year symbol for the Year of the Pig).

As a mixed race family living here in Yorkshire, I have always loved celebrating Chinese New Year and finding things to do. So we have been searching for what to do this Chinese New Year with the family, throughout Yorkshire and at home.


What’s On in Yorkshire this Chinese New Year:

  • Sheffield Chinese New Year Extravaganza on at Sheffield City Hall on February 6th. This is a Yorkshire family favourite of mine with dancing, singing, stalls, music and much more (it’s jam packed so can be quite a long show albeit lively).
    Traditional Chinese performing arts including dance, acrobatics and martial arts to celebrate Lunar Year of the Pig.
    The event is organised by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Chinese Community Centre, Wanlin Dance Academy, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Lai Yin Association, Hallam University. This annual celebration is a cultural outreach event where the local Chinese Community celebrates alongside people from across the city.Pre-Show at 4:00 – 6:45pm (free admission): will include Stalls, school children’s artwork display, China in your Eyes photographs, Stories and Videos’ display, prize-giving ceremonies, Cultural Activities, Food Sale and Stage Performance at the Ballroom.Main Show: will be held at the Main Hall (ticketed), at 7.00pm.Venue: Sheffield City Hall, Barker’s Pool, Sheffield S1 2JA. Tickets can be purchased at the Office or by calling 0114 2228332.Tickets: Standard at £8 each; Children under 12, Students and Seniors at £6 each.


  • If you fancy a night out there’s a Chinese New Year Party on at Plug nightclub in Sheffield on 5th February from 22.30, organised by Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield.
  • Chinese New Year Extravaganza is on at Royal Hall in Harrogate on 14th February 2019. Touring across the country to celebrate the biggest festive event on the Chinese calendar, ‘Chinese New Year Extravaganza’ features a team of performers showcasing amazing Chinese performing arts. From the cheerful spirit of the auspicious Lion Dance, to the awe-inspiring contortion, the show is a colourful display of Chinese cultural tradition.
  • If you’re happy to head a bit further afield North East family fun blog, share where to celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East .
  • Also, over in Manchester they are holding a full weekend of Chinese New Year festivities from 7-10th February in the city centre. And Liverpool celebrates the Spring Festival 8-10th February 2019.

What to look out for next year, Chinese New Year 2020 in Yorkshire:

  • Leeds Chinese Community School holds a special performance at Leeds Town Hall. This year’s Rhythm of the Spring show took place at the end of January.
  • Chinese New Year Gala organised by students and scholars from University of Leeds.
  • On February 1st a Chinese New Year Gala took place at Joseph Rowntree Theatre organised by the University of York Chinese Society.In the tradition of mainland China, everyone would watch the New Year Gala with their family on New Year Eve. As people are studying or working in the UK and not able to fly back home, the Chinese Society held its own New Year Gala to help people in the city feel less homesick.

Here’s how to celebrate  Chinese New Year, the ‘Spring Festival’ at home

A selection of blogging buddies have helped me to come up with these ideas.

  • Crafts

Danielle Duggins shares her Chinese Fan Craft and Puppet Craft  ideas here.

Heather McAvan recommends these crafts: Paper Plate Puppet, Chinese Dragon Lantern Craft and Paper Plate fan .

Jessica Harvey suggests making this, Chinese New Year Craft Dragon .

Jenny Kearney has this Free Chinese New Year printable colouring in picture for you to to try.

Jane Arschavir also has this free printable and this Drum Craft where you make a drum out of paper plates.

Jade Bremner  suggests making a simple Chinese dragon.

She said: “Literally just print off some dragons, colour them in and pop them on lollipop sticks. It’s fun and cheap.” 

Jade’s friend Spike Davis-Riseborough also made this cute Origami pig.

pig origami Spike Davis-Riseborough

Got some spare jam jars? this lantern craft is a great idea…

  • Food 

Blogger Katy Stevens recommends this Salt and Pepper Chicken recipe … 

Bonne Maman also shared these Chinese New Year recipes with us…

Chinese Duck a L’Orange

(Serves 2)


·       2 duck breasts

·       Salt and pepper

·       100g Bonne Maman Bitter Orange, Sweet Orange or Tangy Mandarin Marmalade

·       3tbsp soy sauce

·       1tbsp sesame seeds



1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Slash the skin of the duck breasts then season generously and place – skin side down – in a hot, dry frying pan over a high heat. Cook for 2 minutes then turn and cook for 2 minutes again.

2. Meanwhile, in a small roasting tin mix the marmalade with the soy sauce and sesame seeds. Add the part cooked duck and coat well.

3. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

4. Drizzle the juices from the roasting tin over the meat and serve with potatoes and seasonal vegetables.


 Avocado, Prawn and Cabbage Salad 

(Serves 6)


·       6 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced

·       2 tbsp vegetable oil

·       350g (12oz) raw shelled prawns

·       25g (1oz) roasted cashew nuts, finely chopped

·       1 ripe avocado

·       125g (4oz) white cabbage or Chinese cabbage, finely shredded

·       1 small green mango, peeled, stoned and shredded

·       1 small handful of fresh mint and coriander leaves, roughly chopped

·       6 spring onions, shredded

For the dressing:

·       ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

·       1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

·       2 generous tbsp. Bonne Maman Apricot Conserve

·       Juice of 2 limes

·       1 tbsp fish sauce

·       2 tbsp vegetable oil


1.    Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake together.

2.   Fry the garlic in the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until golden and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3.   In the same oil, stir-fry the prawns with the roasted cashew nuts for about 2-3 minutes until the prawns are just pink. Add to the garlic, spoon over 2 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside to cool.

4.   When ready to serve, peel, stone and dice the avocado and toss together with the cabbage, mango, herbs, spring onions and prawn mixture. Serve immediately, handing round the remaining dressing in a separate bowl.


Cooks Tips

– Make the dressing up to 1 week ahead and keep in a jar in the fridge. Cook the prawn mixture the day before needed. Keep chilled and toss everything together just before serving.

– This dressing is also delicious spooned over pan-fried chicken fillets and served with basmati rice

Whatever you’re doing this Chinese New Year, here at Yorkshire Families we want to wish you a happy and healthy New Year! Do let us know any ideas or recommendations in the comments below. Thank you!




Where are the best places to take photos in Yorkshire? If you’re a budding photographer or just like to capture a nice Instagram shot, here are some of the top photography hot-spots Yorkshire has to offer.

From Urban retreats to vast countryside and of course the good old British seaside.

  • The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery and cafe has become a cultural destination of the north. But the Barbara Hepworth inspired venue is great to create art work and take photographs too. The Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2018 is famous for it’s vast grey design and scenic waterfront. Perfect for photos on a cloudy day.

My husband Chris Hale of MasterChef 2016 also runs the cafe which is filled by beautiful plants from Instagram famous geo-fleur. So if you’re looking for a plant wall, insta-friendly food or latte art snap, make sure you pop inside too.

  • Scarborough Spa

Set on the beautiful Scarborough coast, Scarborough Spa which plays host to a range of entertainment from a children’s magician to regular live Orchestra events which you can watch whilst sat on deck-chairs. This place is stunning and right on the seafront as you watch the waves crash against the rocks.

Amy Downes of a Mum Full of Dreams blog agrees which is why she is having her wedding there too!

I also loved trying out Scarborough indoor and outdoor water park Alpamare. And for photos with waterproof cameras (go pro for example), I really recommend checking out the stunning views of the bay from their 35 degree celsius outdoor infinity pool.

  • Sheffield Winter Gardens and Peace Gardens

An oasis in Sheffield City Centre awaits… Sheffield’s indoor Winter Gardens make for a stunning backdrop with the wooden and glass architecture and the tropical plants. It is also connected to the small but perfectly formed Millennium Galleries.

Just a few steps outside of the Winter Gardens (where Cafe Nero is), you will discover the outdoor delights of the Peace Gardens. Growing up as a child, we loved getting photos playing in the water fountains and picnics on the grass.

  • Newmillerdam Country Park and the Boathouse, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Walk around this stunning lake and country park, perfect for photos in the lush green wood surroundings. A lovely family trail or chance to forage if you know your stuff. It’s a good half day out and close by is Pugney’s Country Park which has a little steam train in the summer. There’s also Sandal Castle at the top, which looks over Pugneys.


  • Trips with a Tot Blogger Naomi JC recommends Sheffield Botanical Gardens as well as a few other photo hot-spots.
    She said:  “Harlow Carr in Harrogate is wonderful too. There’s also some good industrial backgrounds around Sheffield and Kelham Island.”
  • Yorkshire mum Frances Dine enjoys visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Lotherton Hall, Temple Newsam and Nostell Priory with her daughter who is in the photographs below. 
  • Erin Towey, a Yorkshire parent, recommends Winscar Reservoir, Kirklees Light Railway and Fountain’s Abbey & Studley Royal as great photography destinations.
  • Michelle Firth sent us these beautiful photos of Roundhay Park and Harewood House in Leeds.

Where do you love taking photographs in Yorkshire? There are so many places on offer… we can’t wait to see your photos!


SHEFFIELD’S PINK TRIANGLE: SAYiT Charity commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day

SHEFFIELD’S PINK TRIANGLE: SAYiT Charity commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day

A Sheffield young people’s charity will be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day with a giant pink triangle at “Sheffield’s Amphitheatre.”

LGBT+ charity, SAYiT, will be commemorating this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday January 27th.

The young people’s charity will be producing a giant pink triangle installation at South Street Park (also known as Sheffield Amphitheatre) from 1-4pm.

The giant installation will be visible from Sheffield railway station and various other parts of the city.

sheffield pink triangle. sayit charity sheena amos youth trust.jpg

Call for pink donations

The charity is asking for individuals and businesses to show support for the initiative by donating pink items of clothing, sheets or soft furnishings which will be used to construct the two dimensional triangle.

The event is the idea of Sophie Williams, a youth worker at SAYiT charity, she said: “I have always been aware of the horrors of the Holocaust and the extermination of Jewish people.

“It was only recently that I became more aware that other groups including LGBT+ people were also victims of Nazi persecution. This is something we are often not taught about in our history lessons and I wanted to do something to draw attention to this. I also thought that it was important that our young LGBT+ people were aware of their history and some of the atrocities their predecessors experienced at the hands of the Nazi regime.”

Nazi’s arrested 100,000 people for being homosexual

It is estimated that the Nazi’s arrested 100,000 people for being homosexual; half were imprisoned and between 5,000 and 15,000 LGBT people captured and sent to Nazi concentration camps where they were branded with badges depicting inverted pink triangles. Unlike their fellow prisoners, who were liberated after the war, those branded with the Pink Triangle were sent to prison due to homosexuality continuing to have an illegal status. LGBT+ people were not included in the trials of the Nazis, meaning no one has ever been prosecuted for the brutality they faced. Furthermore, many LGBT+ people were too ashamed to talk about their experiences because of the continued condemnation they faced due to what was considered to be their deviant sexual orientation.

“We must not return to those dark days”

Steve Slack CEO of SAYiT said: “We are very proud of the work that Sophie is doing to raise awareness of this important and disturbing historical event which has remained in the shadows of history.

“Not only do we have lessons to learn from the past but we must always remain vigilant so that we do not return to those dark days. Worryingly recent reports suggest that LGBT+ communities in the Russian region of Chechnya continue to be persecuted by the authorities, with two people having been murdered and 40 detained in a new crackdown. Last year there were also reports of LGBT+ people being rounded up and tortured. There are many countries globally which still outlaw homosexuality and many LGBT+ people continue to be imprisoned, tortured or murdered.”

Support Holocaust Memorial Day

Sophie said: “It would be great if people could come and support this event and bring down any pink items to help form the inverted pink triangle. We are not aware of anything like this having been done in the city before.

“We are also inviting people to come to the Millennium Galleries afterwards from 5- 6pm for an opportunity to reflect on the events and remember those who were persecuted or murdered during this terrible period – and indeed who continue to experience persecution.”

If you have any unwanted pink items to donate please contact SAYiT at Scotia Works, Leadmill Road on: 0114 2412728 or email info@sayit.org.uk

Event details are also available by clicking here.

THE CHRISTMAS EXPERIENCE: Lotherton Hall in Leeds #Review

THE CHRISTMAS EXPERIENCE: Lotherton Hall in Leeds #Review

I’ve heard great things about Lotherton Hall which is a country house on the outskirts of Leeds, West Yorkshire. So when we were invited to review the Christmas Experience, we jumped at the chance.

As I was busy finishing off work on my other blog and vlog, my Mother in Law Janet and Sister in Law Jen took the girls on The Christmas Experience.

Janet writes…

Lotherton Hall Christmas Experience

The entry fee included entrance to the Hall and the Christmas Experience. The Christmas experience included an elf village, a 12 days of Christmas walk and a fairy dell.

We went into the  Elf Village first which included a food and drink van selling limited snacks which unfortunately were not really suitable for the children I had with me aged 6 and 4 years. The activities were very good decorating plates, decorations ceramic tree decorations and one other which was too busy for us to see what it was. You had to purchase tokens for these £10 for 4 tokens but I felt these were very good value.

Unfortunately although it was the Saturday before Christmas there was no Santa there. The playground was very good. We did not see the Fairy Dell and the children did not want to do the walk.

I personally would have preferred to have paid less just to go to the Christmas Experience with small children and as we didn’t want to see the house but it was included in the entry fee.


The official lowdown

Steeped in Christmas magic and excitement. Enjoy a magical Twelve Days of Christmas Walk through the Captains Wood around the estate, make the turtle doves fly, walk through the five gold rings and be one of our drummers drumming! Uncover a secret fairy hideaway in our rock garden. Visit Santa in the North Pole and meet our elves helping in their workshop. Marvel in the splendor of the Edwardian House with the rooms dressed in all their festive finery. Wander down to the Elf Village where young ones can join the elves in making craft activities or listen to stories, and everyone can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or warm snack under our twinkling canopy.

DISCLAIMER: We received an entry pass but paid for everything else for the purpose of this review. All views are that of the author.



One dark rainy winter evening, we wandered past Leeds Grand Theatre searching for City Varieties Music Hall (I had wrongly thought it was next to the Opera House). But luckily the Grand’s Box Office directed us to the pedestrian area where City Varieties is tucked away.

How have I never been to City Varieties Music Hall before?

It’s such a hidden gem nestled in a city centre side street (address: Swan St, Leeds LS1 6LW).

As we walked into the 19th century theatre space ready for a Rock ‘N’ Roll Panto, it feels as if we were walking into a grand living room.

Not only is this music hall unique but so was the show we were about to see…

Cinderella the Rock ‘N’ Roll Pantomime

I’ve never been to a Rock ‘N’ Roll Panto before so I assumed it was just a slightly different take on a Panto.

But I was pleasantly surprised when I realised it was actual Rock ‘N’ Roll… I’m talking characters doubling as live musicians and Rock ‘N’ Roll singers.

The audience was a mix of families and Rock ‘N’ Roll fans – all ages alike seemed to love the liveliness of the show, it’s clear to see why the Rock ‘N’ Roll Pantos have become a firm favourite on Yorkshire families’ Christmas calendars.

cinderella rock n roll panto at city varieties leeds live musicians

The highlight for me was the live music and the talent of the musicians  (who doubled up as characters) who managed to enhance a story that I’ve read and seen a thousand times.

It’s the first time I’ve seen the Fairy Godmother double up as Rock ‘N” Roll musician and it worked so well.

Forget the typical subservient women captured in fairytales, this time Cinderella is feisty, the fairy godmother is outspoken and the evil stepmother rules everyone including the men, not just cinders.


There was still the good old slap-stick comedy for the children but I loved all the twists and turns of the music and dancing and their take on the classic fairytale.

cinderella rock n roll panto at city varieties leeds prince charming

Dress Envy

It’s rare in pantos that I actually want to be wearing their costumes but I loved the vintage dresses and simple set.

cinderella rock n roll panto at city varieties leeds

The official lowdown

Cinderella, you shall go to the City Varieties; the popular pantomime gets the Rock ’n’ Roll treatment from Saturday 1 December 2018 to Sunday 13 January 2019.

Leeds audiences are invited to don their glass slippers, board their pumpkin carriages and head to the famous music hall for the now-legendary festive treat. A hit with children and adults alike, Cinderella mixes traditional elements of audience participation and corny gags with a panoply of classic chart-topping pop and soul hits – but keep your wits about you or you might just get rocked by the legendary ‘boulder battle’ – and all before the stroke of midnight.

cinderella rock n roll panto at city varieties leeds slapstick humour

“Our Rock ’n’ Roll Pantos have been extremely popular since they were first introduced in 2011,” said Ian Sime, General Manager.

“They have grown year on year and have now become a Christmas tradition for families in Leeds and beyond.”

 A very different format to the traditional Christmas pantomime, Rock ’n’ Roll Pantos are billed as a hilarious, high-speed show that feature a talented troupe of actor-musicians who perform all the classic hit songs and music live on stage.


Cinderella the Rock ‘N’ Roll Pantomime is at City Varieties Music Hall until Sunday 13 January 2019

Book online at cityvarieties.co.uk or call Box Office on 0113 243 08 08.